MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Zimmermann's mistake is all Kershaw needs

Zimmermann's mistake is all Kershaw needs

LOS ANGELES -- Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann knew he had to be perfect during Wednesday night's 3-0 loss to the Dodgers. Why? He was facing the invincible Clayton Kershaw, who pitched eight shutout innings, allowed three hits and struck out eight batters.

Zimmermann came close to being perfect, pitching seven innings, allowing one run on two hits and striking out a season-high nine batters. But he made two mistakes that cost him, and both came in the third inning. Zimmermann allowed a leadoff walk to Joc Pederson, who advanced to second on a groundout by Jose Peraza.

Zimmermann, trying to hold Pederson at second, balked while rushing a pitch to Carl Crawford. Crawford, given a risk-free swing when he heard the balk call, took a hack and singled down left-field line, scoring Pederson. It turns out, Zimmerman paid too much attention to Pederson.

Crawford's RBI single

"You teach the young players that if the umpires call a balk, go ahead and swing. It's a free swing, and Crawford was able to get one down the line," Nationals manager Matt Williams said.

Zimmermann said he rushed the pitch and home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna called the balk.

"Obviously, I never should have thrown the pitch. Nothing good comes out of that," he said. "I did, and Crawford was able to get the base hit."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.